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After almost four decades of fighting war and foreign occupation, the Afghans are faced with a new battlefromt - the war on drugs.  Afghanistan has been a world leader in opium production, but now they are also a leader in the area of the drug addicts.

A new report from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs estimates the number of drug users in Afghanistan to be over 1.5 million people.  One in 10 urban households has at least one drug user; in the city of Herat, it is one in five.  The problem is even higher in rural areas where the rate of drug use can be as high as 30 percent.  One example of the scope of the problem: in October, the nation's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, fired 65 employees after discovering they were addicted to opium.

The international community has put pressure on the Afghan government to stop drug production.  The U.S. has spent more than $5 billion towards eradication and providing alternative crop subsidies.  Still, opium production is at its highest level since 2008.  And it is not just opium.  Other drugs are now making their way into the local populations.  Crystal meth is also a growing problem throughout the country.

The Afghan government has been criticized for not doing more to prevent or treat addiction.  Only about $4 million is allocated towards drug programs.  But in a country troubled by on-going war, rebuilding an economy and infrastructure and battling rampant corruption, fighting drug addiction ranks low among national priorities.  Even then, whatever programs are offered comes in large part from international aid.





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